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Rutledge Evaluating Abortion Ruling’s Impact on Arkansas

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LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is evaluating how a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas abortion law will affect a lawsuit over Arkansas’ restrictions on how the abortion pill is administered, the Republican said Monday.

Rutledge also criticized the ruling, which struck down Texas’ requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that clinics meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. Justices rejected Texas’ argument that its law and follow-up regulations were needed to protect women’s health.

Rutledge says she’s analyzing the decision to see whether it will affect Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s challenge to an Arkansas law that requires doctors providing the abortion pill to maintain a contract with another physician with admitting privileges at a hospital who agrees to handle any complications. Arkansas is appealing a federal judge’s decision temporarily blocking that law’s enforcement.

“The Court has issued a decision that makes it even more challenging for a state to provide common sense health and safety regulations for abortion procedures,” Rutledge said in a prepared statement.

Planned Parenthood in April asked to amend the lawsuit, including dropping a challenge to a law requiring abortion pill providers to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines because the FDA has changed those to mostly align with Planned Parenthood’s current practices.

Planned Parenthood praised the ruling and said it was also reviewing the ruling to see the impact it would have on Arkansas’ restrictions.

“We are evaluating all of our options in light of this decision and will do everything in our power to fight for women’s access to abortion in Arkansas and throughout our affiliate,” Rachel Lopez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in an email.

Arkansas’ restrictions were approved by the majority-GOP Legislature last year and signed into law by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Planned Parenthood has said it will no longer be able to offer the abortion pill at its Little Rock and Fayetteville health centers if the law takes effect; it does not offer surgical abortions at those clinics. The other abortion provider in the state will only be able to offer surgical abortions.

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